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Dela Paz: ‘P6.9M was contingency fund’

Posted by Abi Kwok on October 15, 2008

 

‘We have nothing to hide’

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 20:10:00 10/15/2008

 

MANILA, Philippines — Retired police director for comptrollership Eliseo dela Paz said Wednesday he welcomes any investigation into his brief detention, with his wife, by Russian customs officials for carrying cash beyond legal limits as they were about to fly out of Moscow, saying they “have nothing to hide.”

However, Dela Paz also said that the P6.9 million entrusted to him as member of a top-level Philippine National Police delegation to the 77th Interpol Assembly in St. Petersburg was a “contingency fund” and not, as Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said, the whole amount intended for the group’s expenses.

“We welcome that [investigation]. Walang problema naman diyan [There is no problem with that]. We have nothing to hide,” Dela Paz told INQUIRER.net when reached by phone in Moscow, where he and his wife Maria Fe, together with police Director Jaime and Mrs. Evita Caringal, are staying until they are cleared and allowed to leave by Russian authorities.

Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman said it would initiate its own investigation into the Moscow incident.

The two couples and Cynthia Verzosa, wife of police Director General Jesus Varzosa, had come from St. Petersburg as part of a top-level Philippine National Police delegation to the when they were intercepted by Russian customs officials as they were about to fly out of Moscow for Warsaw, Poland on Saturday.

However, Dela Paz clarified that it was only he and his wife who were detained and questioned “for hours” after the cash was found on them.

Asked how much exactly was found on them by Russian customs, Dela Paz said: “We’ll account for that. P6.9 million yung contingency [The contingency was P6.9 million] but we also have personal money with us. Kasi meron din nagpapabili sa akin ng mga gamit. Pero hindi ganun kalaki. Pagbalik ko sasagutin ko lahat [There were those who asked us to buy them some things. But the amount was not that big. I will answer all questions when I return].”

He also said that he had been carrying the millions of pesos worth of currency since the delegation left the Philippines.

Recounting what happened, he said: On our way out [of Moscow on] October 11, I was [carrying cash] beyond [what was allowable] dapat i-declare so siguro pagkakamali yun when we arrived [at the airport] we were not able to declare it [which was supposed to be declared so it was a mistake that when we arrived we were not able to declare it]. So paspasan kasi [We were in a hurry]. Very unfortunate that the money pinadala ko pa sa wife ko dapat sa akin lang lahat yun [It was unfortunate that I made my wife carry some of the money, I should have carried the whole amount].”

He said the Russian customs officers wanted to know whether the money was sourced from Russia and being taken out of the country or “whether, as we said, we brought it in and were bringing it out again.”

Ironically, he said that when he first arrived in Moscow, he did not declare the money either but was not questioned about it.

He the Philippine embassy in Moscow has finished translating into Russian the documents on the money that they will present to customs officials there on Thursday.

Dela Paz also said that he will be flying direct to Manila once they are given clearance to travel.

He said that he and his wife are “okay.”

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